Norfolk incinerator bill wrangle could continue until after Christmas

The sun sets over the site near Saddlebow, where the incinerator was proposed to be built. Picture:

The sun sets over the site near Saddlebow, where the incinerator was proposed to be built. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

The full cost to the Norfolk taxpayer of scrapping the incinerator in King's Lynn may not be known until after Christmas, council bosses have warned.

Norfolk County Council voted by 48 votes to 30 to terminate the contract for the proposed incinerator at Saddlebow at an extraordinary meeting in April.

Council officers had said that, due to delays in securing planning permission, the controversial project no longer offered good value for money, and councillors agreed to ditch it.

In May, the estimated cost of cancelling the contract was put at just over £33.7m. That included £20.3m to Cory Wheelabrator - the company which would have built and run the burner; public inquiry costs of £1.6m and estimated interest rate related costs of £11.8m.

The first £11.8m of that bill was paid in July, but council bosses have been locked in months of arguments about the fine details of the contract and how much that means the council must pay Cory Wheelabrator.

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In September, it was announced the compensation would be 'considerably lower' than the £20.3m originally estimated.

But at a meeting this week, Tom McCabe, interim director of environment, transport and development at Norfolk County Council, told councillors the final figure had yet to be agreed.

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He said: 'The discussion with Cory Wheelabrator is ongoing and we would hope to have it resolved by Christmas.

'It's premature to say it will be done by then, though. It could be done before that or it could drag on for longer.'

Norfolk County Council is still trying to come up with a long-term solution for how to deal with the county's waste.

But, in the short-term, a deal has been struck with their counterparts in Suffolk for rubbish to be burned at a newly-built incinerator in Great Blakenham.

Over the next year, about 40,000 tonnes of Norfolk's residual household waste will be hauled down the A140 to be burned at the plant.

• What do you think of the incinerator saga? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.

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